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A Tale of Two Queens

Cebu’s Conquest to the Universe

By Allain Dumon Fonte

There are only two worldwide events that could stop traffic in the entire country.  First is a Pacquaio boxing match, the second is when a Filipina outshines other ladies in the Miss Universe pageant.  The Miss Universe beauty pageant is one of the longest running and most prestigious beauty pageant.  The Philippine candidates are to look forward to because for the past 10 years, our representatives always make it to the cut; not to mention winning 2 crowns in the last decade.

However, in the long history of the pageant, there were only 2 Cebuanas that represented the Philippines.  The veteran and multi-awarded actress Pilar Delilah Veloso Pilapil-Penas, from Lilo-an, Cebu, represented the Philippines in the 1967 Miss Universe.

Young Pilar Pilapil in the 1967 Miss Universe pageant.

And in the 2019 Miss Universe pageant, the Philippines was represented by supermodel Gazini Christiana Jordi Acopiado Ganados, from Talisay City, Cebu; where she was a Top 20 finalist, and she bagged the “Best in National Costume” award.  Her national costume was designed by Cebuana primier créature de mode, Cary Santiago.

Gazini Ganados at the 2019 Miss Universe pageant, wearing a golden gown and a National Costume by Cary Santiago.  Photos grabbed from Good News Pilipinas.

Will a Cebuana represent the Philippines this year?  Today, the 30th of September 2021, in Panglao Island, Bohol, a Filipina will be crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2021 and she shall represent our nation in Israel.  Almost all pageant enthusiasts and pageant fans have set their eyes on the two Cebuanas in the pageant.  One was widely talked about with her fierce runway challenge, while the other one was greatly applauded with her heart-warming and witty self-introduction.  And after the preliminary pageant last Sunday, everyone is now confused who to put their bets on.  One made waves as she struts in her swimwear, while the other one raised the bar higher as she promoted the rattan crafts by wearing it as her national costume.  So, who are these Cebuanas that the entire nation is crazy about?

Right:  Steffi Aberasturi  Left: Bea Gomez

Steffi Rose Pearson Aberasturi is representing the Province of Cebu, while Beatrice “Bea” Luigi Gomez represents Cebu City.  Both Steffi and Bea are front runners in this year’s pageant.  And with their participation, the Miss Universe Philippines pageant is getting more exciting for the Cebuanos.  Although, the two ladies are queens in their own rights because both have been crowned and have won major pageant events, they still have not escaped the scrutiny of this author.  I have consistently followed both ladies as they submitted their entries for the virtual challenges assigned to them by the MUP organization, and here is what I have to say.

First, beauty pageants now are neither looking for another pretty face, nor another witty woman, not even the next runway model.  Beauty pageants are now the venues of empowered women to express their thoughts freely while motivating other young women and girls.  They only do not represent their cities, but they also become the ambassadors of trade and goodwill, introducing their cities to the world.  Hence, for the Runway Challenge, I rated Steffi 9/10.  The over-all runway challenge video is almost perfect.  It showcased one of the achievements of the “Build, Build, Build” program of the government while giving a majestic view of the Cebu-Mactan Channel.  Steffi flawlessly floats on her every step at the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway.  It was a very well-thought production, but mostly, well-implemented by showing to the world that Cebu Province is at par to the world’s most advanced places in technology and development.

Steffi Aberasturi on her runway challenge at the CCLEX.  Photo grabbed  from

Second, beauty pageants are looking for woman of substance who has a sense of leadership and can motivate and empower other young women.  For this category, I am giving Bea 10/10.  Her self-introduction video is so natural and honest.  It showcased her genuine commitment to serve others as a Philippine navy reserved officer and in participating in adrenaline-raising sports for the benefit of disadvantaged children.  Bea also showcased her passion for extreme sports, showing that beautiful women are not only good with stiletto heels but are also up for a challenge in boxing and diving.

Bea Gomez in one of the missions of the reserve naval force.

Third, the MUP needs someone who can speak and is confident.  A beauty queen will use her voice to amplify the voices of those who do not have the opportunity to speak for themselves.  Basing on the preliminary interviews of the two ladies, I am giving Bea 6/10.  Her answers are correct but too safe that they are underwhelming and does not appeal strongly to the audience.  Steffi, on the other hand, stood very confident and charming during the interview and I am giving her a score of 8/10.  Steffi’s answers did not really hit the marks, her arguments are not that strong, but her confidence in her answers and in herself makes her responses convincing to those who are listening.

Steffi during the preliminary interview.

Lastly, as Miss Universe, you become an ambassador of the organization and of your country.  Therefore, you need to be your best, always, and you need to be able to carry yourself with pride.  This means, that when you enter a crowded room, you will be able to get everybody’s attention; and when you walk, you make heads turn in your every step.  For this criterion, I am scoring Bea 9/10 because of her formidable performance in the preliminary swimsuit and evening gown competition. The last time I got so excited for a pageant was when Janine Tugonon made that iconic turn and pose at the 2012 Miss Universe evening gown competition.  After seeing how Bea owned the runway in her swimwear performance, I am seeing another Janine Tugonon in the making!  However, Steffi is not that far behind.  Steffis’ charm and grace made her look regal in her evening gown.  But, I must say that she was just too sweet for the swimwear competition, she must bring back that fierce walk in the runway challenge for the swimwear competition.

Bea Gomez during the Preliminary Swimwear and Evening Gown Competition.  Photo grabbed from

Steffi Aberasturi during the Preliminary Swimwear and Evening Gown Competition.  Photo grabbed from

Both Bea and Steffi are already making the Cebuanos proud.  Both of them are the crowd’s favorites, and we wish them the best for tonight’s Miss Universe Philippines grand coronation night.  The MUP coronation event will be streaming live at Iconique Mall’s roof deck dining area.  Show your support to these Cebuanas and don’t miss to watch the Miss Universe Philippines 2021.


A Feast for the Senses

Crimson Chefs - Masahiro Kinoshita, Naoki Eguchi, Daniel Johnston, Javier Garcia, Allan Barios, Andrew Simpson
By Joanna Cuenco 

June 8 – Mactan, Cebu | For one of its biggest dining events of the year as part of the highly anticipated Cebu Food and Wine Festival, Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan curated an epicurean journey that brought guests on gastronomic flights of fancy, fine cuisine. A Feast for the Senses showcased the creativity and excellence of the resort’s culinary team through a dine-around event at its four dining destinations that invited guests to sample the best that each restaurant had to offer: international cuisine at Saffron, Spanish at Enye by Chele Gonzalez, Japanese at Aka by Naoki Eguchi, and desserts and more drinks at Azure Beach Club.

Maria Paz Perdices, Ambra Anzani, Ema Onda,Kate Anzani, Kumiko Onda, Daisy Barns

Tamsin Booth, Didier Belmonte, Frances Siao, Celeste Miranda, Bert Miranda, Bob Booth

Spirits were high and beverages flowed freely the whole evening, thanks to Philippine Wine Merchant, A Wine Company, The Wine Club, Don Revy, Sommelier Selection, Engkanto Brewery, M. Lhuillier Food Product Inc., Future Trade International, Happy Living Philippines, Equilibrium Intertrade Corporation, and Bauhinia Brewery.

Allan Barios at Saffron dessert station

Ulysse Jouanneaud

Margarette Lhuiller and Perl Jacalan

For the after-party and entertainment at Azure Beach Club, renowned mixologist Ulysse Jouanneaud took over the bar, crafting cocktails with Bacardi, Don Papa, Cointreau, and Sula Brands. Chef Allan Barrios presented a dessert spread that included key lime pralines, vanilla bourbon truffles, honey coconut cryos, and tiny flower-potted bamboo shoots that turned out to be made of pistachio. These little works of art were planted alongside vibrant green foliage, smooth stones, and a faux fog effect that created a tropical rainforest diorama out of the dessert table.

Lechon belly station at Saffron

Dessert display at Azure Beach Club

Yellowfin tuna tataki

Grilled mackerel with laksa boullabaise

The night sky and the distant lights of neighboring islands were the perfect backdrop for a high-energy LED dance performance and fantastic fireworks display that left guests in awe and applause. 

Rose Hudson

Chele Gonzalez

Brava potato with chorizo at Enye

LED and Tron Dance

Aka Private Room

The Cebu Food and Wine Festival is supported by the Department of Tourism – Philippines, Visit Central Visayas, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cebu Business Month, and Cebu Pacific Air. 

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Janine Taylor, June Alegrado, Jackie Lotzof, Frances Siao, Ina Ronquillo and Christine Pelaez

The NUSTAR Ballroom, a magnificent venue at the NUSTAR Resort and Casino in Cebu, sets the stage for last night’s first-ever NUSTAR Ball.

Black was the color of night at the Zee table.

Glamorous guests from Manila and Cebu converged at the NUSTAR Ballroom, an exquisite venue within the NUSTAR Resort and Casino in Cebu. The evening unfolded with a seated 5-course dinner. The opulent feast started with Beetroot Salmon Gravlax, adorned with caper berries, caviar, set with delicate edible flowers; and a main course of Compressed Pork Belly with Crackling Skin and Baby Scallops. Another highlight was the auction of coveted items like Dior and YSL handbags, a limited-edition Bulgari watch, and an exclusive 2-night stay in Nustar’s opulent 3-bedroom villa—complete with a private pool and a dedicated butler. The charity evening benefited the Cameleon Association, an NGO based in Iloilo City created in 1997 that developed a global approach to act on the causes and effects of sexual violence against children.

Nora Sol, Beth Go, Frances Siao and Marylou Ong

Ina Ronquillo, Maryanne Aboitiz and Jackie Lotzof

Designers Jun Escario and Philip Rodriguez

Philip Rodriguez with NUSTAR Malls two power ladies: May Adolfo and Joanna Salazar

Lana Osmeña with Mariquita Yeung

PJ Castillo and Kaye Abad with Cary Santiago

Drew Sarmiento with LV Manager Adrian Decuigan

Cary Santiago with Eva Gullas

Manila socialites Julie Boschi and Ching Cruz with June Alegrado

It was a night of elegance, luxury, and unforgettable memories as ladies in long gowns and gentlemen in black ties danced the night away.


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Flying Tiger Copenhagen Lands in Cebu

By Joanna Cuenco

June 13 – Cebu City | Danish lifestyle brand Flying Tiger Copenhagen has landed in Cebu, opening its first branch in the Philippines outside Metro Manila at the upper ground floor of SM Seaside City.  

Since its first store in Copenhagen in 1995, Flying Tiger has aimed to share products that not only look good, but make people feel good too. There’s something for everyone aged one to 100: toys, art materials, homeware, party supplies, workout gear, travel essentials, fashion accessories, and more. There will be fresh drops at the store every three to four weeks, so there’s always something exciting to look forward to and share with family and friends. 

Product designs range from minimalist and “aesthetic” to cute and kitschy. Find lifestyle essentials like food storage and home organizers, tea towels and toothbrush holders, to some awesome things you didn’t know you needed, like a handheld sewing machine and a beach chair for your phone. 

Even though the 200+ square meter space is fully stocked with hundreds of items, the store layout and neat display make it such a joy to look at all of the things and make the shopping experience easy and enjoyable. Flying Tiger believes a richer life does not cost a fortune, so items start at only P30, or even lower with some special promos.

The store opened with a traditional Danish cake-cutting ceremony with Jet Tan, Flying Tiger Copenhagen Store Operations Manager of APAC Region; Gladhys Rodriguez, Merchandising Manager of Flying Tiger Copenhagen Philippines; Billi Jin Esguerra-Perez, Marketing Manager of Flying Tiger Copenhagen Philippines; and JB Tan, Mall Manager of SM Seaside City Cebu. 

Zandra Len Salvador and Drew Sarmiento

Sarree Pimentel with Lian

Rizanne Tiongko, Joanna Cuenco and Anya Morrissey

Jen and Jas Sarmiento, Rere Dakay, Kirby Yu with Kayden

Jaja Chiongbian Rama with Sebi and Georgiana

Eleni Paray, Hazel Tirol and Mitchelle Lua

Flying Tiger is exclusively distributed in the Philippines by Stores Specialists, Inc., the country’s largest specialty retailer that handles a network of 593 stores and 94 brands, including some of the  most recognized names in the world.

Facebook: @FlyingTigerCopenhagenPH

Instagram: @flyingtigerph

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